Change is one of the few things in life that is constant and therefore, it is crucial for individuals to develop life skills in order to adapt to these changes. Typically, we develop life skills throughout the course of our adolescence and young adult life and make modifications to those skills as we continue to grow and experience change. Individuals who struggle with alcohol and drug addiction either miss out on the opportunity to develop those life skills during their younger years because of drug and/or alcohol use or, their ability to self-manage, adapt and develop appropriate life skills becomes impeded by their substance use.
Why are life skills beneficial for individuals? The answer is rather simple; in everyday life, an individuals life skills will help them effectively problem solve, develop and foster a sense of self-confidence and awareness, enable an individual to work both independently and within teams, create an increased sense of self-awareness and even help an individual take responsibility for their actions.
Life skills carry on beyond just an individual level. They are important at a societal level as well. The more we are able to develop life skills at an individual level, the more we are able to carry those skills into group settings, such as work or school. Skills such as time management, leadership, adaptability, and problem solving can be utilized in various settings that can help an individual become successful in their lives.
In terms of life skills and addiction treatment, the development of healthy life skills will ultimately help an individual to become more successful in their sobriety. Treatment facilities not only work with individuals to overcome the alcohol and drug addiction itself, but they also work with these patients to provide them with the necessary tools, strategies and even resources needed to overcome and sustain their sobriety. These skills may include assistance in developing a resume, providing them with interviewing techniques, teaching them how to develop and maintain healthy relationships, decision-making skills, how to manage mental health and/or physical health beyond the treatment walls. The list goes one. All of these are life skills that many of us take for granted.
Most individuals who have or are currently struggling with a substance use disorder have spent days, months or maybe even years living for their addiction. Their primary concern becomes reaching that high or finding that next hit. This at times causes them to lose sight of daily responsibilities, such as paying their bills on time, going to work, taking care of themselves physically and mentally, etc. As such, it is important for life skills training to be a part of the day-to-day programming in addiction treatment.
Substance use has the ability to rip a persons life to shreds, stripping an individual of any and everything. Rebuilding that life takes time, energy and patience. Providing the necessary tools and resources to each individual to help them move forward on their path to recovery can help them achieve success. As a ‘healthy’ individual, we may take basic life skills for granted; however, when someone is faced with an addiction, their ability to cope in a healthy manner deteriorates, thus chipping away at their life skills. This is why a responsible addiction treatment facility will include an emphasis on giving these individuals the necessary tools and resources they need to build healthy and positive life skills.
Author: Bonnie Wright – Footprints to Recovery – Executive Director, Colorado